PMS is a Holistic Tool for Revealing the Truth


Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanos

There is an unfortunate narrative about PMS that paints women as temporarily irrational, unreliable, and emotionally-driven. From an outside perspective, and without a clear understanding of its purpose, it can certainly seem this way. In my experience, the reasons for these changes are clear and not at all irrational.

I notice a clear correlation between suppressing my voice and experiencing a slow build-up of tension and irritation as I approach my moontime. I have experienced many times that if I resist the urges of my body and continue to swallow my words, I can actually prevent my blood from flowing, until I open my mouth and let the truth out. 

I see PMS as a powerful holistic tool for discerning the truth, opening the throat chakra, and allowing energy to flow in preparation for moontime (sacral and root chakra opening, and arguably, an opening of all the chakras). The wisdom that settles in to those freshly-cleared spaces is like nothing else, and its available to childbearing-age women every single month.

Without further ado, my Ode to PMS:

Along the winding, spiraling path of Mother, Partner, Teacher, Sister, Friend
There is an ebb and flow that dances with the moon
And each month, the magma in my caldera churns up the feminine fire that lies dormant in my blood until the Moon is full

Then, my skin becomes hot and prickly
My tongue sharpens and my perfect aim battles with my soft heart, begging it to be gentle 
The fresh heat in my blood draws up all that has become restless under the current of my awareness
It rises up my throat like hot steam
All the words swallowed, tongues bitten, suppressed emotions and undervalued opinions
Burn hotter and hotter until their steam burns an opening at the top of my throat and I must open my mouth and SPEAK
With firey truth, I speak all that has been unspoken 
With the pressure released, like lifting the violently rattling lid off an overflowing stockpot 
An atmospheric change whispers in through freshly opened windows

The spirit of the Medicine Woman asks to inhabit my body for these four days of release, and I bow to welcome her in
I realize that the uncomfortable electricity of my skin, the bloat of my belly, and the sore ache of my inner thighs and hips is present to plunge me into solitude

And so I lock the doors, prepare the tea, clear the space, and I sit

Tall spine, energy flowing
Womb throbbing, deep knowing
Writing like a river, I don’t know where my pen is going
I take my monthly seat in the High Priestess throne
Offering this mother a glimmer of the Wisdom that will flow when she gains the honored title of Crone


The Most Psychedelic Experience of My Life


Its hard to convey what this weekend meant to me. I’ll tell you about some of the profound moments I had, but know that this weekend felt like an integral step forward in the process of what I call ‘remembering myself home’.

You see, ever since the first yoga festival I attended when my son turned one, where tears streamed down my face during the entire hour-long satsang, I made a commitment to give myself at least one ‘treat-yo-self’ yoga immersion per year. I find that each time I immerse myself in yoga for a few days at a time, I find myself drenched in serenity, flooded with visions, insights and epiphanies, and remembering some vital part of myself that I had forgotten.

I was so excited for this weekend, not only because of it being my first teacher training module, but because of the topic: Kundalini and Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is what my parents practiced and what I spent so much of my childhood immersed in. Still, even with a lifetime of experience, I don’t think I really “got it” until this weekend.

Having not practiced Kriya in nearly a decade, I found myself in fields of awareness that I had forgotten existed. I experienced massive forward leaps in my meditation practice and personal growth. It was like a jolt of electricity ran through my body and suddenly I jumped to a point in my personal evolution that I didn’t imagine I would reach for years, if not decades. In visiting this way of meditating and exploring my consciousness, I found myself remembering things about my childhood that I had completely forgotten.

I also had the most psychedelic experience of my life, and it was completely natural. Allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is Holotropic Breathwork.

So, its Saturday afternoon during the first module of yoga teacher training. Me, the 17 other trainees, and our teacher Rainbow Eric (oh yeah!) are slated to experience a “Group Breathwork Journey”, according to our schedule. Now, we’ve been meditating and doing lots of yoga together for the last two days, so a “group breathwork journey” seemed like just another activity.

We were guided to lay down and get comfortable, settling in for an hour-long savasana. All 25 of us settled onto the floor with our eye pillows and bolster-fortresses and layers of blankets, ready to chill the fuck out. Eric explains that what we’re about to experience can be intense – that we might move involuntarily, that we might confront difficult emotions or past experiences, and that if at anytime we need extra guidance, to flag him down for support. He mentions that what we’re about to do has the potential to cause a flood of DMT in the body (DMT is a psychedelic compound that is naturally produced by the human body and some plants. Read more about this fascinating stuff here).  I don’t think much of it and I settle easily into my mat. We begin a focused breath and soft music begins to play. Aww yisss. I live for this shit.

At first, this seems like any other savasana, but before I know it, I’m going DEEP: All the way in, and farther out than I’ve ever been. I begin to have memories that I haven’t thought of in ages: dreams I had when I was pregnant, moments from my childhood that I had forgoteen, etc. I notice that the slightest changes in my position bring up different memories. I begin to touch each of my fingers to my thumb, and each mudra is like a coordinate for a specific memory. I find that switching back and forth between my index and middle finger takes me back and forth between a moment from giving birth and my son as a baby. I can switch back and forth between the two just by pressing a different finger to my thumb. That’s neat, I think.

I let my hand rest and go further. I’m not thinking about my body. I’m not in my head. I’m just fully experiencing the moment – breathing deep and slow and delicious, body totally surrendered to gravity and feeling like every cell in my being is lit up from inside.

I hear a symphony of happy, blissful exhales around me and realize that I’m part of the orchestra. Even though each of us is having our own very internal experience, there is a subtle external synthesis between us. Choruses of inhales and extravagant sighs come in waves that roll across the dark, palo santo-scented room.

At one point, my knees begin to shake, and I remember what Eric said about involuntary movements. I remember the time in belly dancing class when our teacher mentioned that we hold our fear of change in our knees. I resist any urges to stop them and just let them shake. The movement begins to travel up my body and it feels like an orgasm. Before I know it, my entire body is vibrating. I’m smiling the widest, cheek-squeezing, joyful smile, feeling my being so incredibly ALIVE, and suddenly I am laughing the loudest, happiest, most blissful laughter I’ve ever laughed, and it sets of a chain reaction around the room. There is an 18-person giggle fit happening and none of us can see each other. My perception of time is completely non-existent, but I estimate this room full of laughter rolled for a good 7 minutes. As it dies down, I begin to cry. Not a sad or painful cry, but just a release. Shaking, to laughing, to crying: its like one orgasm after another, and I feel like I’m processing in minutes what would otherwise take years of therapy or journaling.

I am going even deeper within, and even deeper without. Deeper and deeper in both directions – out in space and into my atoms.

The music that started out as soft and meditative is now fast-paced and dramatic. The music is guiding our experience and I am going so deep and fast that I begin to feel scared and nauseated. I pull away from the nausea and realize I cannot go deeper unless I move through it. I’m afraid of what could happen – the last thing I want to do is throw up, let alone in a room full of people blissfully peacing out.

I lift up my eye pillow and look for Eric – I want help, but he is assisting someone else. I realize I must navigate this alone, and I begin to find my way out through my thoughts, spinning through anxiety and being reminded of the times I smoked too much pot and couldn’t relax. Soon enough, Eric guides us out. I’m relieved. We are instructed to take it easy and slow, and give ourselves time to come back. All I can think about is how badly I need to pee.

I make my way to the bathroom, attempting to hurry, but I feel like I’m wading through molasses. I am so out of my body that I can’t even feel my bare feet on the hardwood floor. Eventually, I make it the 40 feet to the bathroom and sit down to pee. I can’t feel anything. I feel like a mass of particles, not connected in anyway, but just existing in a blissful hum. I begin to pee and finally I can feel sensation – a single ring of warmth where the pee is leaving my body – I feel like I suddenly have a sensory map of the nerves of my urethra (did I mention that TMI is a regular thing I offer?). My body is so relaxed I consider just staying here and melting into the toilet seat.

Someone knocks on the door, so I find my way out of the bathroom. I realize that its been a few minutes since we came out of our journey, but I’m still not back. I feel like I’m just as aware of my existence in 7 other dimensions as you are of your physical body right now. I realize that I have always inhabited these other planes of existence, but this DMT flood I’m experiencing has deconstructed the illusion that glues them all together. I see them like floating, parallel transparencies. A part of me doesn’t want to come back.

I’m used to it taking a minute or two to come all the way back from a meditation or savasana, but this is totally different. Some part of me feels like its not okay that I’m not back in my body all the way yet.

I look for Eric for guidance, and he is talking to Jimi, one of the first takers of my giggle fit invitation. I stay nearby, waiting for them to finish their conversation so that I can be next in line to talk to Eric. I’m desperate for someone to help me ground. As I wait around, I feel weird that I’m just hovering near them, but their conversation is actually helping me. They’re talking about LSD and shrooms and suddenly I have a reference point for much of what I’m feeling. I continue to listen as I hazily peruse the crystal jewelry display behind Jimi – I’m looking for something, anything to help ground me – nothing strikes me. I move on to the essential oils – I settle for a bottle of Wild Orange and inhale deeply, but I’m still SO out there. Why am I feeling so uneasy?

I realize that I no longer hear Eric and Jimi’s conversation, so I turn around, but Eric is nowhere to be found. Whatever look I was wearing on my face must have been telling, because Jimi made eye contact and said “Oh, hey, come here” and brought me in for a warm, tight hug. It was exactly what I needed. We shared a few “Whoa, I’m high as fuck and I didn’t take drugs” exchanges. It was so genuine and comfortable and I suddenly felt like I could be off flying through other star systems and it would be totally cool because Jimi said it was cool.

The group reconvenes and we begin to share experiences. I asked about my experience with nausea, which was still coming in waves, and we discussed emotional states that bring up nausea, and why we experience it with psychedelics. Again, putting something in reference to shrooms or acid makes it all make sense (thanks, wild teenage years!).

After our sharing circle, we are guided to do some more Kriyas, but everytime I begin to run energy through my body, the nausea rears its woozy head again. I also have a headache. I decide to just sit and breathe, trying my best not to follow the words of guidance floating into my ears.

The day is over, and all I want to do is to go back to my Air BnB, shower and pass out, but it’s a Saturday night in downtown Boise and there is a 30-person long line I have to stand in to pay for parking. I do my best to seem normal around the middle-aged theatre-goers that surround me, even though I feel acutely aware of the expansive, formless nature of my being. I wish that in some way I could bestow upon them the knowledge of the infinite state of their being, and how much more there is to life than just this 3D world.

Finally, I get home and shower, eat some leftovers, and pass out. I am fucking spent. I lie in bed, vacillating between how amazing I feel, how shitty I feel, and wondering how the hell I experienced all those amazing feelings just by lying down and breathing.

The next morning, I wake up and all I can think is “I can’t wait to do that again”.

Late Pregnancy Mindfulness & Delight

Another from my pregnancy journal. A mindfulness meditation, of sorts, turned delight at the effect my pregnant body may or may not have on people 😉

April 19th, 2015

Yesterday I watched the geese fly North for the Summer
They soared in circles above our heads, eyeing ponds to land in before setting off on their long journey

Today I listened to pollinators visiting flowers and bringing with them the happiest of buzzing sounds

Today I meditated on my porch, soaking in the last minutes of sunshine
I opened my eyes just in time to witness the last rays of warmth glistening along the tops of the ponderosas before the sun gave its final wink and disappeared behind the mountain

Today I witnessed the intensity of the green shooting out of every leaf, blade of grass, and flower stem
I can almost hear it, its so vibrant

Today I practiced yoga next to a glistening blue lake, listening to the wind and birds, and the gentle whistle of the breeze rushing through the grass
I smiled when two young girls came by while I was in Vrkasana, offering an example of ability, strength and calm, hoping that such a visual would have a positive effect on their sense of femininity

Today, an entire grocery store full of people marveled at how robust and ripe with life I am
They hardly believed I wasn’t 90 weeks pregnant and actively giving birth in the checkout line
Oh, those poor, terrified old men

My Womb Pulses With Life

Another from my pregnancy journal. My husband and I found out that we were pregnant the morning that we left for our honeymoon – a 7 day rafting trip on the Salmon River with 14 of our friends. It was such a gift to get to spend those early days of knowing on water, in a beautiful natural place, with plenty of free time to daydream and let my mind wander. My connection with the Earth in those early days really set the tone for my entire pregnancy.

September 8, 2014

My womb pulses with life
I grow you with the assistance of the Sun and the Moon
Luna is full above me as I sit in this deep canyon next to a wild river
Wild, like the cells multiplying to create this new life blooming inside of me
Science knows so much about this process, but there is still so much mystery, and every now and then I can taste those ancient secrets
Every night I say a prayer, place my hand on my belly, and wish you health, strength and vitality
I love you so much already and I am doing everything I can to create a womb of love and health for your first home
This is such a special time and I feel so blessed to be able to cherish it dearly

I Will Love Giving Birth

Before I became pregnant with my son, I purchased what I intended to be a Preconception Journal. Doing things consciously is always my intention, and motherhood was no exception. This is the first entry I wrote, having no idea that I was already pregnant. As a testament to the power of visualization, everything I wrote here came true. Feel free to use this as an affirmation while pregnant or trying to conceive.

August 21, 2014

I will love giving birth.

I will love the intensity.

I will find pleasure in the sensations.

I will find pleasure and trust in my body.

I will find stability, love and trust in my husband.

I look forward to the power and pleasure of dancing our baby out.

I chose to accept the process, to relax more deeply than I ever have.

I choose to be calm and accepting.

I choose to take things on their own time throughout conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting.

I choose an easy, comfortable birthing time.

If You Avoid It, It’s For You

Yoga is a vast universe. We all come to yoga for different reasons. We want to de-stress, get strong, soothe anxiety, heal an injury, etc. Then it hooks us.

There is an undeniable high and tranquility that, we sense, is our innate nature. And so we practice, again and again, diving into the facets that make us feel alive. And yet, there are so many aspects that we ignore. They may not be as pleasurable in the moment, but if we give them our full attention, that peace becomes where we live instead of being a place to arrive it.

I see it a lot in fitness-junkies, who love every minute of a physically challenging class, and then facing the stillness of savasana sends them right out the door. It’s fine to pick and choose, of course, and that’s part of the beauty of having so many options. Yoga can be whatever we want it to be. But know that whatever part of the practice you illuminate casts a shadow on what you ignore, and THAT is where your biggest lessons lie. That is the dry slice of the pie that you need to eat in order to look at all of yourself, be all of yourself and grow in beautiful ways you’ve never imagined.

Flexibility and flow come easily to me and I derive deep pleasure from diving into rhythm, improvisation and breath. But when I turn around and face discipline and strength in the eye? Gulp. Deep breath. Okay, let’s do this. I see where my limits are. I see where it bleeds out into my life. I have to face my subconscious beliefs about discipline and control. Yuck, but Yes!

There are two common, linked phrases among yogis: “If you avoid it, it’s for you” and “The pose begins when you want to leave it”. Part of the work of Asana is that it brings discomfort to our door. And sure, we can skirt around it by focusing on the person next to us or taking shortcuts, but no true development happens until you decide to be present and drink in this moment. Let yourself be here. Now. Face your shadow. It’s where your greatest magic and message are nesting, waiting for you to crack them open.

I Am Awakening

Listening to the whispers in the breeze and the stories rushing past my cold and happy river feet
I am awakening
My root has caught the eternal fire in my heart
I am grounded and alive

The winds of change blow all around me and I laugh as their possibilities play with my hair
I am free; to choose, to gaze, to walk, to wonder

Sown seeds have taken root beneath me and wherever I go, I am connected
Tapped in

Deep down, within, I know.

I know.